We, the undersigned civil society groups, call on the Cambodian government to immediately and safely repatriate a large group of Cambodian nationals currently stuck in Malaysia. Permitting their return is consistent with article 40 of the Cambodian Constitution, which safeguards the right of Cambodian citizens to settle abroad and to return to Cambodia, and Cambodia’s obligations under international human rights law.
On April 7, 2020, approximately 150 Cambodian migrant workers and students who had been working and studying in Malaysia were scheduled to take a flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Cambodia. Upon their arrival at the boarding gate, the airline informed them that the Cambodian government had denied their entry to Cambodia and they were not allowed to board the flight for which they had purchased tickets.
Prime Minister Hun Sen confirmed that he had refused their return based on reasons of safety for the country’s population due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.